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by Tom Stoppard

Arcadia Theme of Science

Since science is the rational study of reality, it's independent of its historical context, right? Well, not exactly, according to Arcadia. While it may be true that the writings of the Ancient Greeks on physics still make sense today, available technology limited what they could do – and, more interestingly, what they could even think. By exploring how scientific possibility is the product of a particular historical moment, Arcadia invites us to think about what's just over the horizon for today's scientific thinkers – and how science might change in ways we can't even imagine.

Questions About Science

  1. How does Thomasina's approach to science compare to Septimus's? What about Valentine's?
  2. Why is Bernard so down on science?
  3. What is scientific genius, according to the play? Is Thomasina a genius? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Through focusing on the history of science, Arcadia suggests that science is similar to literature in that it is subject to its historical context.

Many of Thomasina's ideas emerge independently after her demise, even though she did not live long enough to develop or publish them. The play uses Thomasina and her early death to show that genius is not necessary for the advancement of science.

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